The Sunday Times has reported that President Jacob Zuma is in talks to sell a majority stake in the state-owned arms manufacturer Denel to Qatar.
Zuma is reportedly also in talks with Qatar to sell stakes in South African Airways and Eskom, but these negotiations could not be confirmed by the Department of Public Enterprises or the Presidency.
The Sunday Times said the discussions between Qatar Defence Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah and Zuma took place during a state visit to South Africa this month.
Denel and Zuma’s spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, denied that Denel is selling a stake to Qatar, however.
Ngqulunga said the Qatar Defence Minister simply “paid a courtesy call” to Zuma, and that no deal was discussed.
The Department of Public Enterprises, Treasury, and the National Conventional Arms Control Committee reportedly have no knowledge of the deal.
Denel is struggling financially, and the arms manufacturer recently tabled an incorrect annual report.
The auditor general told parliament it requested auditing firm SizweNtsalubaGobodo to change its clean audit opinion on Denel after irregular expenditure had come to light.
Denel has faced financial problems for years, and in 2015 it was reported that Denel could not pay its suppliers after exhausting its cash reserves on an ill-advised acquisition.
According to Rapport, the cash troubles started after an acquisition of land mine-resistant vehicle manufacturer BAE Land Systems SA for R855 million.
The company has also been linked to dealings with the Gupta family.